Microsoft resellers tap firm for channel advice

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InterDyn-Artis, a reseller of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), is counting on a "lumpy mailer" it sent out this summer to help it expand. It is doing so with the help of the Partner Channel, an independent marketing consultancy that deals exclusively with resellers of Microsoft Business Solutions.

The Partner Channel worked closely with InterDyn-Artis, whose primary market is the lumber industry, to create a video CD to send to prospects in the staffing industry.

The CD was mailed with a packet of coffee in a 6-by-9-inch yellow envelope to 1,400 prospects from a list it purchased from Microsoft Corp. Recipients were encouraged to enjoy a cup of coffee while viewing a case study on the CD. Its call to action was to register for an upcoming Webinar on the particular benefits of its software to the staffing industry.

Judy Van Der Linden, marketing and human resources manager at InterDyn-Artis, said the Partner Channel has been integral to InterDyn-Artis' ability to execute the campaign because her company is small and its resources limited.

"We have 24 employees," Van Der Linden said. "It's very important for us to be able to depend on the experts in marketing like the Partner Channel to do the legwork for our campaigns. We do not have enough resources. I am the HR manager and the marketing manager," she said.

Van Der Linden had access to marketing money from Microsoft for her lumpy mailer campaign, but "we had a very strict deadline," she said. "The Partner Channel was instrumental in getting this project off the ground and out the door within one month."

She said the process went smoothly and attributes that in large part to the Partner Channel's familiarity with her business. "They already know who we are and what we are selling," she said.

The Partner Channel was founded in 2003. It is headed by partner and creative director Spider Johnk, who formerly served as creative director of marketing at Great Plains Software and as an independent contractor to Microsoft Business Solutions.

"It's complementary to what Microsoft offers their partners," Johnk said of the Partner Channel. "We help the partners individually brand themselves in their own community. We pick up where Microsoft leaves off. We can help them become better branders and better marketers."

There is a $25 per month fee to become a member of the Partner Channel. That includes secured Web access to a variety of marketing materials and subscriptions to the firm's quarterly magazine and e-mail newsletter.

Consulting services cost $1,100 per month. That includes a marketing director to help create a marketing plan and ongoing services to help execute the plan. Other services, such as telemarketing services, print ad designers, copywriters, and list brokers, cost extra.

The Partner Channel has about 10 full-time staffers and roughly 50 independent contractors who are pulled in on a project-by-project basis, Johnk said.

Jim Traynor, channel development manager at MBS, said the Partner Channel makes his work more effective. MBS offers a voluminous pipeline of marketing materials and marketing dollars to its thousands of partners, but taking advantage of those can be daunting at times.

"Their mission is very similar to Microsoft's," Traynor said. "It helps augment what Microsoft offers to partners already."

Johnk agreed. "There's so much information that comes from Microsoft," he said. "Corporate's job is to push product out into the world. "We're helping the partners pull the product out from corporate."

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